It’s still real to us, damn it!
I was going through my photos of the 2009 NWA Legends Fanfest, when I came across a picture of David Willis and me. A longtime fan (and loyal KFR reader), Willis is best known for his outburst during a Q&A session with Terry Funk and other legends during another convention, when he broke down when discussing the injuries and deaths that have plagued the business for the last several years.
David no doubt took a lot of ribbing for this episode, but I empathize with his sentiments. Pro wrestling–this childhood fascination of mine–has a death toll that is unreal and has ruined countless lives of the men who have survived long enough to “retire” (and I use that term loosely). It’s tough seeing performers we admired so much over the years–in my case, David Von Erich, Eddie Gilbert, Curt Hennig, Road Warrior Hawk, Rick Rude, Eddy Guerrero–die so young.
It’s easy to laugh off David’s emotions if you don’t understand the context (much like Jimmy Kimmel did), but for those of us who were around when rasslin’ seemed real, we at least understand. I’ve sometimes wished over the years that I’d fallen in love with a sport like pro football or picked up another hobby I was crazy about as a young man instead of this crazy business. But when it’s in your blood–you’re hooked. I still love it. I’m just not sure the price paid by these men have been worth the memories.
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